National Safe at Home Week: Prevent Accident-Related Deaths in the Home
National Safe at Home Week is a week at the end of August dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers hiding in your home. Most serious injuries and fatalities occur in homes rather than work places, and the costs associated with home-related injuries is higher for employers than the costs for work-related injuries.
The types of unintentional accidents you may encounter in your home vary greatly, and you may think you’re prepared should they happen to you, but in fact, the National Safety Council estimates that 1.2 million people are injured at home each year, and there are 245 deaths per day.
Accidents or unintentional injuries were the 3rdleading cause of death in 2014 as reported by the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) accessed through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.
WHAT ACCIDENTS SHOULD I BE AWARE OF DURING SAFE AT HOME WEEK?
Four of the top causes of accident-related deaths in the home are:
Falls - 6,000 deaths per year
Poisoning - 5,000 deaths per year
Airway obstruction - 1,000 deaths per year
Water related (e.g., drowning) - 800 deaths per year
WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT FALLS DURING SAFE AT HOME WEEK?
In the 65 and older age group, 85% of deaths are caused by unintentional injuries, 55% of which were falls. Additionally, 3.4 million children suffer from unintentional injuries per year, falls being among the top incidences.
Clear clutter - The more furniture, knick-knacks, and obstacles you have out in the open, the likelier a fall becomes. Work on organizing your home room-by-room. Take unwanted furniture to Habitat for Humanity Restores, donate books to the library, and have a yard sale for the rest.
Remove rugs - Decorative rugs are a tripping hazard, and placing one near the stairs is a recipe for disaster.
Add sufficient lighting - Replacing burnt-out lightbulbs, and adding nightlights to bedrooms, hallways, and bathrooms all help prevent falls in the dark.
Deck out the bathroom - Installing a grab bar, and non-slip mat to your bathtub can save your life. Tubs can become dangerously slick with soapy water.
Trade in your socks - Avoid wearing nothing but socks on tile and hardwood floors. Trade them in for slippers with rubber grips on the bottom.
HOW CAN I PREVENT POISONING DURING SAFE AT HOME WEEK?
When you think of poisons, you may conjure up an image of a bottle with a skull and cross bones on the front, but many poisons in the home are not that obvious, and you may not be aware of how easily they can be ingested accidentally.
Store your household cleaners - All your household cleaners should be properly labeled and locked away. If you’re storing them in a lower cabinet that is accessible to children of any age, invest in a cabinet lock.
Don’t become a chemist - When you’re using your household cleaners, avoid mixing dangerous chemicals, like bleach and ammonia. These mixtures can have serious ramifications on your health.
Keep your prescriptions secure - Always store prescribed medications in the original containers they were given to you in. This ensures you know exactly what you’re taking, and you won’t accidentally over dose. You should also get rid of old medicines you no longer need. Try grounding them up in a plastic bag, then mixing them in with old coffee grounds or cat litter to dispose of them.
Poison Control - Write down and hang up the American Association of Poison Control Centers phone number somewhere in your kitchen, and consider adding the number to the contacts in your phone. You can never be over prepared for an accidental poisoning situation.
The Poison Help line is 1-800-222-1222
Don’t forget carbon monoxide - Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when there is too much carbon monoxide in the air, and your body begins replacing the oxygen in your red blood cells with the colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. This can quickly lead to severe tissue damage and death. If you don’t have them already, consider adding carbon monoxide alarms to your home during Safe at Home Week.
Airway obstruction is just another way of saying the person can’t breathe. Whether this is by choking, strangulation, or suffocation, airway obstructions are scary and very prevalent in children.
Ditch the plastic bags - It’s all too easy for small children to become trapped inside a plastic bag and begin to suffocate. If you can, switch from plastic bags to reusable bags. They’re affordable, sold at just about every grocery store, and you will also be helping the environment. If you prefer to stay with plastic bags, store them in high places away from children.
Empty the crib - Infants are highly susceptible to suffocation in their cribs. Babies do not need pillows or stuffed animals, so those have got to go. Also look at the sheet. It should be tight fitting to protect babies who can roll over onto their stomachs. A bare crib is a safe crib.
Learn the Heimlich - You probably had to learn the Heimlich in health class, but if that was a long a time ago, it’s probably a smart idea to find a CPR and First Aid class near you. The Heimlich is a potentially life saving procedure performed on choking victims. The American Red Cross offers Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED classes in person as well as simulations online.
Go to www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr for more information
HOW DO I PREVENT WATER RELATED INJURIES DURING SAFE AT HOME WEEK?
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental deaths in ages 1-4. The YMCA writes that it only takes 10 seconds for an unattended child in a bathtub to be submerged; 2 minutes for the child to lose consciousness; 4-6 minutes for the child to develop permanent brain damage. In fact, it doesn’t take a tub full of water; children can drown in as little as 2inches of water.
Monitor children - Never leave your child unattended in the bath. Even if you’re just outside the bathroom door, if you’re distracted, they can drown.
Put the lid down - An open toilet bowl is an easy place for small children to drown. Put the lid down after every use.
Fence it up - If you have a pool, put a high fence all the way around it, and keep the gate locked. It’s also a good idea to install motion sensors that go off when someone enters the pool. But it’s not just falling into the pool that you should be concerned about; rain water can build up on the tarp or cover on top of a closed pool.
WHY SHOULD I HAVE MY AIR DUCTS CLEANED DURING SAFE AT HOME WEEK?
This one may not seem as obvious, but a clean HVAC system leads to a safer home. Clean your air ducts every 5-7 years, and you will reduce the amount of dust, allergens and harmful particulates your family is breathing. There may be traces of formaldehyde, flame retardants, rodent waste, and mercury building up in your duct work. These particulates are brought into your home every time you open the window on a breezy day, wear your shoes inside and let the pets in. Without regular duct cleaning, your family is breathing in more and more of these dangerous particulates, and if you have crawling children, they are ingesting up to 10 grams of particulate ridden dust per day.
This Safe at Home Week, find a company that uses the National Air Duct Cleaner’s Association’s (NADCA) preferred process of cleaning and save your family from increased allergies, asthma attacks, and potential harm.
More info? For more information about safety in the home, check out our other post: COOLEST HOME SAFETY TIPS